Development of small scale LNG design

Yosuke Yamamoto's picture
Yosuke Yamamoto, Process Technology Division No.1 Process Engineering Department, JGC Corporation
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The small scale LNG market around the world is expanding, and further growth is expected. Small scale LNG has already been developed for such sectors as bunkering fuel, motor vehicles and peak shaving for gas networks.

Worldwide trends, such as the shale gas boom, the fall in oil prices and economic stagnation in Europe, make investment decisions for large scale LNG projects difficult. However, development of small scale LNG is relatively affordable, given its unique design basis and set of technologies, which makes the business accessible to many players for many uses.

JGC has conducted a series of fit-for-purpose studies to develop small scale LNG design. Firstly, liquefaction technologies have been compared, considering the amount of equipment, energy consumption (efficiency) and construction schedule, and CAPEX has been found to be the most important of the key factors involved because it creates a hurdle for investment decisions by small scale LNG owners.

JGC has also studied making the plot space for the liquefaction train as small as possible to achieve further cost reductions, without compromising safety. To start, the plot space was made 50% smaller than that in the original design, and then all the equipment needed was accommodated within that compact area. After that, it was verified that the final design still complied with all the unique design philosophies and requirements previously established for small scale LNG.

JGC has also evaluated various construction methodologies, such as stick-built construction vs. shop- fabricated modules, as it significantly affects the CAPEX, to determine the optimal methodologies depending on the construction location.

In addition, small scale LNG can be an economical means of de-bottlenecking large LNG trains by adding just the small scale liquefaction unit where the owner desires to increase LNG production without adding or modifying utilities and offsite facilities in order to minimize the investment cost. JGC has extensive experience conducting such LNG debottlenecking studies and can propose the optimal LNG enhancement by analyzing the design margins of the existing equipment and facilities.

The LNG industry has grown based on large, integrated projects. Although such large LNG projects will continue to play a key role in the LNG industry, JGC is also developing small scale LNG, which can influence the LNG sector in unique ways.

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Image source: Courtesy  of JGC Corporation.